Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Ame's Army

12 May 2010Ame Barnbrook is a 21 year old girl from the NSW south coast of Australia. She loves sailing and playing the trumpet. Doesn't sound too amazing does it?

What if I told you that Ame was born with Phocoamelia? Which is a rare genetic deformity, that would mean for Ame, that on the 4th July 1988, she was born with no arms, only the bottom half of her left leg, a small foot and three toes...

She has learnt to adapt though, just as all disabled people do. She uses her foot to eat, write and play her trumpet with. Ame gets around in an electric wheelchair, which she controls with her foot.

She is the Ame out of ‘Ame's Army', a group that she started, to help raise money for her and her sailing partner, Lindsay Mason, who is sight impaired. They want to raise enough so they can work towards a spot in the 2012 London Paralympic games. They're goal is to raise $190,000 in a few months.

Firstly though, before London, they hope to go to Medemblik in Holland for the 2010 World Championships, which are held in late June.

Ame began sailing at just 7 years old, which has paid off, as she is already a national and international champion, winning numerous sailing regatta's.

Among other feats, she has also completed her High School Certificate and has a University degree in Creative Arts. Ame was also lucky enough to carry the Olympic torch through the south coast city of Narooma, while on its way to Sydney for the year 2000 Olympic games.

Ame is definitely an amazing young woman, and in her own words, “My disability is continually judged before my abilities have been recognized and I like to prove people wrong.” So lets help her prove everyone wrong. Spread the word and tell everyone you know about her goals!

If you would like to help Ame and Lindsay reach their goals, you can easily donate, simply visit or to keep up with her progress via Ame's blogs, visit or join her facebook group at

Baby Ame

Ame's foot

Carrying the Olympic torch

Ame Rockclimbing

As a child

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Previous Comments

Tony Stanton from Albany WA posted on 6 Dec 2011
Hi Ame,I am 81. I saw you at the ISAF World Championships at Sandringham Yacht Club in December 2010. Apart from being old, I am not disabled but I do volunteer work with Sailability at Princess Royal Sailing Club in Albany & have also coached swimmers with disabilities in Albany between 2000 & 2005 at our local pool. These swimmers used to tackle the WA Disabled Sports Association's State Swimming Championships & I would travel to Perth with them each year. I am currently a swim instructor working with swimming lessons which often include people with disabilities.To help with recruiting volunteers from our sailing club's members I have prepared an article about my trip to Sandringham last year, how it came about & how I fell into the ŕst impressions" trap when I saw you & my subsequent mortification in joining those, who didn't wait to look to your amazing abilities . I want the article to be published in PRSC's Newsletter. I seek your permission to do so. The following is what I have said:-Sailability Dismissing Disability. Seeing abilities and providing opportunities through volunteering!In December 2010, my wife & I won a competition in My Sailing e-magazine. The prize was 3 days in Melbourne as guests of the Sandringham Yacht Club to witness the last days of the 2010, ISAF World Championships on Port Phillip Bay.On the first day, arriving at the Club to take to the water to see the races, we made our way through a long enclosed viewing area. It included the galley & bar, random TA-BLEs with people standing or sitting, watching the racing behind large glass windows. I noted a young lady strapped in a wheelchair, with another lady standing behind her who was, I thought, her carer. Because the young lady in the wheelchair was so restricted, I surmised she could only be a friend of a competitor in the Paralympic section of the competition. On the final day, at the announcement of the results, there was a huge turn-out of the media to interview the World Champions of the many classes plus 2nd & 3rd place medallists. Although a very formal occasion with podiums & TV cameras, each medallist had to negotiate an uneven array of occupied TA-BLEs, groups of observers & other watching competitors.The Bronze Medallist in the Paralympic Skud 18 Class was announced as Ame Barnbrook skipper, with crew, Lindsay Mason. An unescorted young lady strapped in to an electric wheelchair proficiently navigated her way from the back of the large crowd, ducking in and around groups of occupied TA-BLEs, to the Podium. I was amazed and surprised at her adeptness and speed in guiding the chair and left wondering how she had controlled it. When she faced the crowd I could not see arms or hands and all that was visible was a toe, almost hidden by the rug on her lap. I was left wondering how she could possibly sail an 18 foot yacht, let alone come 3rd in an International competition. The answer recently came in the form of this paragraph in the 2011 winter edition of the Sailability Australia Newsletter: -Sir Roden Cutler Award 2011To acknowledge outstanding sporting achievement by an athlete with a disability, in 1998, the Primary Club of Australia CR-EATEd the Sir Roden Cutler Award in honour of the late distinguished Governor of NSW.Ame Barnbrook is the 2011 Sir Roden Cutler Award winner. Amethyst (Ame) Barnbrooks story is a truly remarkable one. Born with Phocomaelia, she has only the lower half of her left leg, a small foot & 3 toes; she has no arms or right leg. She uses her 3 toes for eating, writing, playing the trumpet & sailing. According to the Judges, she has achieved more in her 22 years than most will in a lifetime.Ame has excelled in music & sailing & has a degree in Creative Arts from Wollongong University. Her aim is to represent Australia at the 2012 London Paralympics.She says Its about what I can do, not what I cant do. My disability is continually judged before my abilities have been recognised & I like to prove people wrongShe certainly proved my initial judgement to be just totally wrong. She has shown me how the advantages of a positive attitude lead to success. I suggest Look out Skud 18 competitors at the London Paralympics OlympicsAmes story shows how helping people in their particular life situation can stretch their world beyond imagination. She is on line. Would you like to be the person who makes a difference? If you can spare some of your time as a volunteer with Sailability you could be the next person to stretch anothers world and perhaps stand back and be lucky enough to think I made a difference! Sailability is a not for profit, chariTA-BLE organisation which provides sailing opportunities to people with disabilities from novice through to Paralympic level. The sailing experience and empathetic mentoring that our volunteers provide underpin the success of our program. We are always looking for enthusiastic people who would like to make a voluntary contribution to our programs, both on shore and on the water.Ame is also looking for assistance to help her Olympic dream come true & some of you may want to contribute, Check her website for her remarkable story.Why not give it a go and stretch your own world? Tony StantonPS. I thought you had taken Silver at the ISAF Champs but one article says Bronze & another says you were 2nd. Either way it was a top performance but I want to put the correct result in the article if you could let me know.Thank you & Good Luck with your quest for Gold. I look forward to hearing from you.My email is [email protected] regardsTony

Leanne Bryan from Albury NSW posted on 30 Mar 2011
Hi AmeIm your Second cousin on your dad's side. Marie is my mum's sister...Its amazing what you have achieved & I knew you would as i remember even as a toddler you had a strong determination & will.Love Leanne xxx

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas from Balmain posted on 5 Jun 2010
Jo, please contact me. 9810 4592, 0419 460 120. Ame is one of the most outstanding people who I have had the pleasure of working with in my entire life. Your writeup of Ame is brilliant. We plan and have started on an amazing journey and I am so confident we could work together for the mutual benefit of Nova and Ame and her life's goals. To all you people and organisations and businesses out there who actually give a damn about the staggering achievements of people with disabilities just keep at it. One day, and we can make it sooner than later, people like Ame will get the recognition they deserve and businesses will want to have motivated and goal oriented employees who have disabilities.

Bill from St Ives posted on 26 May 2010
Jo, I saw this with a mix of amazement and wonder - you can only admire the can-do of this girl - what an inspiration to all of us. After nearly 60 years I can't play the trumpet or sail, I have never rock climbed nor have I carried an Olympic torch - well done Ame!

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